Cookies are getting battered from all sides. Consumer groups are calling for privacy legislation and the Federal Trade Commission is pushing to get advertisers to implement a “Do Not Track” policy.
According to the lead-generation company, Mintigo, nibbling away at cookies could have a major impact on Internet advertising revenue, which reached $31-billion in 2011. While giant sites that generate a huge volume of traffic like Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon may be marginally affected by “Do Not Track,” midsize B2B companies, using third-party tracking, may find there’s not a whole lot of dough left in cookies.
Observes Jacob Shama in his adotas.com article, “When Mintigo looked at top-ranked Websites, (they) found that the use of third-party tracking was correlated to Website traffic. Specifically, (they) found that third-party tracking was actually lower among the largest traffic sites, and peaked at 59 percent usage by midsize sites…. In addition, certain industries like computers, software, internet, financial services and automotive now show more than 50 percent of top sites using third-party tracking.”
Even more than first-party tracking, third-party tracking causes major privacy concerns. That’s because the customer’s information is out of the hands of the people the customer is doing business with. So, with the FTC and consumer groups threatening legislation, the advertising industry is considering its own “Do Not Track” mechanism.
Shama writes, “The chairman of the FTC has predicted that such a mechanism will be in place by the end of this year. In May, Microsoft announced that it would ship Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) with “Do Not Track” enabled by default. Although the default was ruled non-compliant with spec standards, in favor of opt-out cookie disabling by users, if such a default were to be honored by ad networks, it could in theory render the estimated 20 percent of web traffic that switches to IE10 ‘un-targetable.’”
“Do Not Track” could, for some companies, be the difference between being profitable and losing money.
Shama points out that marketers may have new tracking options on the horizon. “It will be increasingly important to leverage the vast quantities of public information available on the web and social networks. While this overload of information is more than people can digest manually, technologies like semantic crawling and artificial intelligence make it possible to identify an audience without using cookies. It’s even possible to discover proxies for buyer intent, which is perhaps the most exciting innovation of all.”
Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester Research says, “B2B buyers leave lots of hints about their needs and buying intent through their social media profiles, updates and conversations in online communities. Technology that can discover these hints and identify ideal prospects will greatly improve how marketers target and communicate with buyers in the future.”